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Book Festival nostalgia: Charlotte Square is the place to be for avid readers

Former Monty Python member Terry Jones in 1993

Former Monty Python member Terry Jones in 1993

EVERY year, for a few glorious weeks, the pristine lawns of Charlotte Square are transformed into a bustling hub for the world’s writing community.

The Edinburgh International Book Festival is one of the city’s greatest assets, offering a chance to hear from some of the globe’s bestselling authors.

So it was something of a shock this week to learn that organisers were appealing for donations to help them bring big-name authors to the event.

Less surprisin, of course ,has been the swift response from supporters, so fondly is the event thought of. Since it started in 1983 the festival has become one of the highlights of the year, and has played hosts to giants of literature – as well as giant puffins and giant statues.

At the heart of its success has been an audience ranging from academics to primary school children, all of whom can find something to amuse them, whether it’s famous writers such as Garrison Keillor, famous faces such as TV chef Rustie Lee or just a chance to meet a comedy legend such as Terry Jones, who popped up at the event in 1993 with his latest childrens book The Curse of the Vampire’s Socks.

At first a biannual event, the Festival became yearly in 1997 and it’s success was instrumental in helping the Capital become the first Unesco City of Literature in 2004.

Last year saw an unexpected drop in ticket sales, a knock-on effect both of poor weather – something which has always been a concern for organisers – and the ongoing recession.

With a loyal support and one of the most striking venues in the city however, the book festival will undoubtedly be able to write many more chapters into it’s already distinguished history.

 

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